Thistles Again


Beautiful trills of birdsong drifted through the bathroom window. As I raised the mini-blind halfway, I expected to see, somewhere, a goldfinch. There it was, in all its glory, perched on the new clothesline that Mark had strung across the lawn. I love to watch birds, but for some reason, I get a special thrill over these little, black and gold beauties. They always sound to me like they are extremely pleased to be in our yard with our thistles.

      Although I feel shamefully guilty, I, too often, allow the prickly plants to grow until it takes gloves and special tools to remove them. By then, their unusual buds have formed, and, knowing what potential beauty lies inside, I can’t bring myself to check their growth. In spite of their prickly menacing, I anticipate the pretty, purple blooms that I love so much and let nature have its way.

      “Look at the goldfinch!” I called to my daughters, who reluctantly attended to my request beside the window and humored my enthusiasm with lukewarm interest.

      “Aahh!” they conceded to its beauty.

      “I knew it was out there,” Jo said, “I saw the thistledown drifting past the kitchen window. There’ll be even more thistles next year.”

      “Probably.” I knew she was right, but our place sits back off the main road so only a few visitors notice my weedy yard, and does it really matter what the neighbors think?

      I pictured the feeders posted in the well-groomed lawn around the home where I grew up. My dad always provides a varied mix of birdy treats and fills special feeders with thistle seed.

       ” I should do that, too,” I thought, “and not let this place get so overgrown.”

      I was attracted again by the happy bird voice outside and saw the little finch dive from the clothesline toward the purple blooms bursting with fluff. It tore into them with its little beak. The down flew. I witnessed the wonderfully coordinated feasting and propagating with renewed awareness of a complex process depicted in so simple a scene.

      The moment froze around my small space in the big world that only seems to get smaller because of what we usually think of as human progress. It was a nature moment. If I stayed there long enough, I would feel throat-welling lumps and tear-flooded eyes, but I didn’t stay that day. I happily went back to what consumes my time most – kids and cooking and dishes and laundry and endlessly

tidying an untidy house. Contentment came from knowing that

it’s all there, close, just outside my window. All I need to do is stop and look.


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